COVID-19: How to Protect Yourself and Family from Catching It – The Basics
- Get the COVID-19 vaccine. It is your best protection against this serious infection.
- Avoid close contact with people outside your family unit. Avoid closed spaces (indoors) when possible and all crowds (even outdoors).
- Always wear a mask when you leave your home and observe social (safe) distancing.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water (very important). Always do before you eat.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if water is not available. Remember: soap and water work better.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth unless your hands are clean. Germs on the hands can get into your body this way.
- Don’t share glasses, plates or eating utensils.
- No longer shake hands. Greet others with a smile and a nod.
- If you or your child need to be seen for an urgent medical problem, do not hesitate to go in. ERs and urgent care sites are safe places. They are well equipped to protect you against the virus. For non-urgent conditions, talk to your doctor’s office first. Medical offices are also safe places.
Social Distancing and COVID-19 Prevention
- Avoid any contact with people known to have COVID-19 infection. Avoid talking to or sitting close to them.
- Social Distancing: try to stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from anyone who is sick, especially if they are coughing. Avoid crowds, because you can’t tell who might be sick.
- If COVID-19 is widespread in your community, try to stay 6 feet (2 meters) away from everyone outside your family unit.
- Stay at Home Orders: follow any stay at home (stay in place) orders in your community. Leave your home only for essential needs such as buying food or seeking medical care.
- After Stay at Home Orders are Lifted: continue social distancing. Also wear a mask when entering any public building or outdoor crowded area. These precautions will be needed for many months. Your state public health department will decide when they are no longer needed.
Face Masks and COVID-19 Prevention
- Overview: face masks are essential for reducing the spread of COVID-19. They will also reduce the spread of flu. Wearing a mask means you care about other people.
- Recommended Masks: made of 2 or more layers of washable, breathable fabric. Completely cover the nose and mouth. Fits snugly under your chin and against the sides of your face. Neck gaiter masks may not work as well. (CDC)
- Sick patients: must always wear a face mask if they need to leave the home. Example: for medical visits. Exception: patients with trouble breathing in a mask can consider a loose face covering, such as a bandana.
- Well people: the CDC also recommends face masks or coverings for everyone going outside the home. Masks are critical if entering a public building, such as a grocery store. Reason: many people with COVID-19 have no symptoms but can spread the virus.
- After the Vaccine: continue to wear a mask in public spaces. Reason: reduce the spread of the infection to others.
- Well People Exceptions: face mask or covering is optional if outdoors in nature and you can avoid being within 6 feet (2 meters) of other people. Examples: on an outdoor walk or run.
- Age Limits: face coverings also are not recommended for children under 2 years (CDC).
Keep Your Body Strong
- Get your body ready to fight the COVID-19 virus.
- Get enough sleep (very important).
- Keep your heart strong. Walk or exercise every day. Take the stairs. Caution: avoid physical exhaustion.
- Stay well-hydrated.
- Eat healthy meals. Avoid overeating to deal with your fears.
- Avoid the over-use of anti-fever medicines. Fever fights infections and ramps up your immune system.
Keep Your Mind Positive
- Live in the present, not the future. The future is where your needless worries live.
- Stay positive. Use a mantra to reduce your fears, such as “I am strong.”
- Get outdoors. Take daily walks. Go to a park if you live near one. Being in nature is good for your immune system.
- Show love. As long as they are well, hug your children and partner frequently. Speak to them in a kind and loving voice. Love strengthens your immune system.
- Stay in touch. Use regular phone calls and video chats to stay in touch with those you love.
- “2-Household Bubble.” To reduce social isolation, especially for young children, some families have joined up with one other family for visits. Rules: both families must agree that they will not have social contacts with any other families. No one in either family can work outside the home. Not approved by CDC but a reasonable family decision.
How to Protect Others – When You or Your Child are Sick
- Stay home. Don’t go to school or work if you are sick. Don’t go to stores, restaurants, places of worship or other public places. Avoid public transportation or ride sharing. Leave the house only if you need to seek medical care. Your doctor or local health department will tell you when it is safe to return.
- No visitors. Do Not allow any visitors, even friends.
- Cover the cough. Cough and sneeze into your shirt sleeve or inner elbow. Don’t cough into your hand or the air. If available, sneeze into a tissue and throw it into a trash can.
- Wash hands often with soap and water. After coughing or sneezing are important times.
- Don’t share glasses, plates or eating utensils.
- Wear a face mask when around others or if you have to go to a medical facility.
Call Your Doctor If:
- You think you or your child needs to be seen
- You have other questions or concerns
Author: Barton Schmitt, MD, FAAP
Copyright: Copyright 2020. Updated 11/10/2020.
Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.